'The Conservative Case for Trump': Is there one?
Three noted conservatives work hard to paint Trump as a contemporary Ronald Reagan.
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has run the craziest and most turbulent political campaign in US history. His erratic behavior, personal antics, and controversial comments have frustrated and infuriated many potential voters.
This sentiment isn’t just held by the political left. There are numerous right-leaning individuals who don’t believe Trump is either a conservative or Republican. His skepticism about existing trade deals, opposition to the Iraq War, occasional praise for totalitarian leaders, and eagerness to attack fellow Republicans has baffled most small “c” conservatives (including me) on a near-daily basis.
Phyllis Schlafly, Ed Martin and Brett M. Decker want to end the debate as to whether Trump is a real or faux conservative. In The Conservative Case for Trump, these three right-leaning media figures attempt to prove “he could be the most conservative president we’ve had since Ronald Reagan.” That’s a mighty tall order to accomplish in a paperback-size hardcover volume about a presidential candidate who has disappointed as many conservatives as the Gipper inspired. Yet, the authors try their best to prop up their preferred candidate on a pedestal – which, alas, is already missing two legs and is about to lose its third and final one.
There’s also some historical importance. This is the last book authored by Schlafly, the prominent conservative activist who successfully campaigned against the Equal Rights Amendment. (She passed away two days before its release.) Most passages are written in the first person, and her hope was this final work, “the culmination ... of more than seventy years of active involvement in Republican politics,” would change the hearts and minds of “well-meaning conservatives” who “find Trump puzzling or even offensive.”
"The Conservative Case for Trump" includes 10 chapters that examine Trump’s political agenda, including his fight against illegal immigration, his rejection of political correctness, his call for a more muscular military and to fix Social Security. These policy positions, along with several interviews conducted with the Republican presidential candidate, are supposed to help put the Right’s mind at ease.
Indeed, there’s some information that will soothe some conservative hearts.
For instance, the authors note Trump “is famously political incorrect” and isn’t one “to let his voice be stifled.” While they acknowledge he “sometimes respond to insults in kind, or says something poorly worded or clumsy that we wish he hadn’t,” their position is that, “at a bare minimum he cuts through the fog of political correctness that blinds even many conservatives.”
Trump also wants a “new foreign policy that addresses today’s threats” and opposes radical Islamic terror. The US “needs to go back to basics with a more clear-eyed vision of what is truly in America’s national interests.” As well, the authors are pleased “Trump will appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court who understand that their limited role is simply to make sure the Constitution is being faithfully executed and not to re-engineer society as the progressive Left sees fit.”
Unfortunately, Trump is far from being a true blue conservative. He holds positions that conservatives would be hard-pressed to support.
His opposition to illegal immigration (which is valid) is tainted by his preposterous call to build a wall with Mexico – and make them pay for it. Descriptions of Trump being a “nationalist” who “wants American jobs to be held by American workers” has a more suitable home in the anti-globalization movement. The book also tackles the “[b]ad trade deals that sell out American workers,” one of Trump’s favorite hobby horses, noting “the far-reaching TPP is the granddaddy of all rotten trade deals” and “NAFTA is the deadbeat dad who always makes promises but never delivers on them.”
Meanwhile, isolationist rhetoric seeps out with his stance to “not waste American lives in pointless wars of ‘nation-building.’” There’s an odd description of Trump being “more of a foreign policy ‘realist’ in that he believes that we should always put America’s national interests first and that we should be weary of wars to promote democracy.” It’s also difficult to defend the position that he “deserves the vote of every pro-life, pro-religious freedom conservative” after a long history on the pro-choice side, his questionable family values, and sensationalist sexual exploits.
Schlafly, Martin, and Decker are intelligent writers and thinkers. Unfortunately, their book can’t remove the varnish from the painful truth: Trump’s ideology is an amalgam of right-leaning and left-leaning ideas. That’s why many conservatives don’t trust him – and why a growing number can’t support his faltering campaign any longer.
Michael Taube, a Troy Media syndicated columnist and Washington Times contributor, was a speechwriter for former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.